Emily has always been a singer. She sang before she spoke. Not actual lyrics, but from the time she could make noise, she was always making musical noise. Around two years old, she started writing her own songs. They started off very “two-like” (such as The Grass Song – A Song about Grass), and moved on to her own versions of actual songs (her rewrite of Neil Young’s Cowgirl in the Sand was a favorite), and then to her own originals (one memorable one was called I Want It Back, which was all spurned lover-like, with lyrics like, “It’s not you I miss, it’s me – my life. I want it back”). I am forever finding notebooks around the house with song lyrics written in them. At first, I thought she was just copying the lyrics to songs she liked, but then I started googling, only to discover that they weren’t songs on the radio – they were more of her originals.
From the time she was a baby, I always said she was dramatic (oh god, the drama!), and that she should go into the arts since she’s so outgoing and animated and unafraid of attention and did I mention dramatic?). And it didn’t hurt that she could carry a tune.
She was a toddler when she discovered karaoke and from then on, if there was a microphone in the vicinity, she was on it.
Then, when she was five, she was asked to sing at a travel show, in front of about 500 people. The theme of the show was Wizard of Oz and she sang Over the Rainbow. I was worried that she would see all those people and get scared, but I shouldn’t have worried – she loved the stage.
She discovered dance last year and took to it immediately – especially the recital – performing is her favorite part.
Finally, this summer, we decided to indulge her love of the stage and music and dance and we enrolled her in a summer camp put on by the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. She got a chance to be in their performance of Annie, and if she wasn’t sold already – that did it. Her head was filled with dreams of the stage.
At school, the kids in her grade had to make “dream stars” to display in the hallway, telling what their biggest dream for the future is. Without a moment’s hesitation and no prompting, she made hers:
(in case you can’t read it, it says “I want to be on Broadway.”)
Then, this month, she performed at another travel show (this time with a Sound of Music theme). She was losing her voice, but she went out there and killed anyway:
A few days later, she had an audition for a local university’s production of A Musical Christmas Carol. I was worried because her voice still wasn’t back to normal and had my fingers crossed that they would give her a chance to be in the chorus. As we left, they said they would email the next day & let us know. I left hoping I wouldn’t have a disappointed child on my hands, but talked to her about learning to accept that if she wanted to go into this kind of thing, she would have to learn to deal with the ups and downs.
I tend to be the kind of mom who supports her kids, but doesn’t go through life with blinders, thinking they are perfect. I’m not a stereotypical stage mom, or a cheer mom, or a dance mom, or even remotely a helicopter mom. I’m more of a realist. I always knew she had a decent voice – not the best singer or the best dancer, but I also knew she had a sort of presence when it came to performing, although I attributed that opinion to mom-bias.
So imagine my surprise a few hours later, when I got a call from the director himself, telling me that he had cast her in a role. He said she had a wonderful voice. That the dance & music people fought over her. That she was the youngest child he had ever cast in a role. He used words like delightful and captivating. He said I should encourage her to follow this path in life.
So she performs in December. And she starts at the CLO Academy in January. I’ll never be a stage mom, but I’ll always be her biggest fan. And if she does make it to Broadway, you’re all invited.